What is conflict resolution? Conflicts, arguments, and change are natural parts of our lives as well as the lives of every agency, organization, and nation. Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional. When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement. Conflict resolution through negotiation can be good for all parties involved. Often, each side will get more by participating in negotiations than they would by walking away.
There are several steps to negotiating the resolution of a conflict successfully. They include:
Understand the conflict
Conflicts arise for a variety of reasons. It’s important for you to define clearly your own position and interests in the conflict, and to understand those of your opponent. Interests play an important role in better understanding conflicts. People often waste time bargaining over positions. Instead of explaining what the interests of their position are, they argue about their bottom line.
Communicate with the opposition
Now that you have thought through your own interests and those of the other party, you can begin to communicate directly with your opposition. For productive talks, you must listen; let everyone participate who wants to; speak about yourself, not the other party; be concrete but flexible; avoid early judgments; and find a way to make their decision easy.
Brainstorm possible resolutions
Now that you know the interests of both parties and how to communicate better with the opposition, you can start thinking about solutions. Look at all the interests you have listed, for you and your opponent, and look for common interests. You can brainstorm with your opponent only or with a group of people. Work to come
up with as many ideas as possible, and look for win-win solutions, or compromises, in which both parties get something they want.
Choose the best resolution
You will need to decide which resolution is best. Review your brainstorm ideas and star the best ones. These are what you will work with during the conflict-resolution process. The goal here is to use both groups’ skills and resources to get the best result for everyone. Which resolution gives both groups the most? That resolution is probably the best one.
There may be times when, despite your hard work and good will, you cannot find an acceptable resolution to your conflict. Always have your best alternative somewhere in the back of your mind. As you consider possible agreements with your opponent, compare them to this “best” alternative.
Cope with stressful situations and pressure tactics
We’ve talked about how to negotiate with a fairly reasonable opponent. However, you need to be prepared to negotiate with all kinds of opponents, both reasonable and unreasonable. What if your opponent is more powerful and influential than you are? What if they refuse to meet or talk with you? When these situations arise, stay calm and go slow. Don’t get angry or make a rushed decision.
In conflict resolution, the best solution is the one that’s best for both sides. Of course, that’s not always possible to find, but you should use all your resources to solve your conflict as smoothly as you can.
Dan Jachimiak is a life coach and life skills trainer working with teens, young adults, and adults in the Toledo area. He can be reached at 419-787-2036. ❦